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Dress for Success Cleveland: Dynamic duo works to teach financial literacy

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Posted at 7:46 AM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 18:20:02-04

CLEVELAND — Dress for Success Cleveland is known for helping women thrive, as they launch into the workplace. This year the organization is awarding six people for their contributions to our community. Two of those individuals are business partners, who created an accounting firm with the goal of helping black people understand their money and boost their wealth.

It’s tax season, which means lots of late nights for Meltrice Sharp and LaRese Purnell. Together, they created CLE Consulting and manage that accounting firm with a purpose.

“The vision was to change the financial landscape in our community. One of the things that I experienced in my past positions was that minority businesses didn't get a seat at the table or they didn't get equitable access. And one of the primary reasons for that was because they didn't have the right financial framework to play in the sandbox,” said Sharp.

The pair casually knew each other before coming together in 2017 to build their firm at the suggestion of several mutual friends. The two tell me they complement each other and now have an unbreakable bond.

“It's a match made in heaven,” said Sharp.

“When it comes to my partner, I don’t play no games,” said Purnell.

Sharp said, “We both have a goal to be the largest, the largest African-American accounting firm in our country. Our vision is way bigger than just Cleveland.”

As this company grows and expands, both say financial literacy is their passion. In addition to schooling their clients, they dedicate countless hours outside of work to educate people about money.

Meltrice is also a professor at Cuyahoga County Community College, where she teaches accounting.

“Only 1% of CPAs are African-American, and so when you get an in a profession like accounting is really important that people see people that look like them,” said Sharp.

And you may know LaRese as the mind behind The Real Black Friday, an initiative that works to elevate and showcase Black businesses.

“When you see a business go from having one location to having five, six, seven locations. You know, you're doing the work,” said Purnell.

CLE Consulting and its founders are being honored by Dress For Success Cleveland. Both have supported the organization in various ways over the years, from donating clothes to women who are preparing to enter the workforce, to speaking at seminars to help those same women, women get their finances together.

Purnell said, “This was so important was because for the first time, for us, that's why this was so unique. Was this the first time that we're being recognized together?”

“It's something about leaving a true legacy where you can say, I've impacted my community in a positive way and my community is better off than I was a part of it that it would have been had I not been a part of it,” said Sharp.

For details on Dress for success Cleveland, click here.